San Diego Lawyer Magazine: “Some More of the Most Interesting Lawyers We Know” –
Watch out, Emeril Lagasse. San Diego securities attorney Tom Stieber is bringing a little “Bam!” of his own into people’s homes. Stieber abandoned his full-time legal career to lead a unique entrepreneurial venture that sends professional restaurant veterans into the homes and businesses of busy attorneys, professional athletes, and working families. He chronicles the challenges attorneys may face in running a non-legal business.
Tom Stieber always had a penchant for combining the creative and the pragmatic. As an aspiring third-grade cartoonist, he asked his classmates to cough up cold, hard cash for the privilege of owning one of his original drawings. It was his first stab at developing a practical and beneficial arrangement for multiple parties. He was becoming part entrepreneur, part budding lawyer.
Many years later, after law school, he landed a job with a fast-growing Internet start-up company that embraced the prevalent 1990s optimism of limitless opportunity. As in-house corporate and securities counsel, he had free reign to develop his academic abilities into specialized areas of practical expertise. Like most attorneys, he used a broad range of problem solving skills to deal with a wide range of situations.
Stieber also endured the challenges of a rigorous work and travel schedule that limited time for sleep and exercise, tilted the balance of personal and processional life, and eroded the ability to maintain healthy long-term dietary habits. Most attorneys tolerate such inconveniences, but heavy restaurant takeout food was not an acceptable replacement for Stieber’s formerly healthy diet. He began a quest for finding a personal chef to help increase his quality of life.
After his surprisingly daunting search for a chef, Stieber realized that the personal chef industry lacked (legal) quality and education standards. In July 2000, Stieber and a former classmate incorporated Big City Chefs. Now Stieber meets unique professional and personal challenges. Legal work often takes a back seat to financial, marketing, or business development concerns. While this required some getting used to, the overall mix of activities was a welcome challenge to Stieber.
Stieber’s schedule took a change for the better. Although he may spend much of a Saturday working, he has time during the week to exercise, nurture creative outlets, and cook for himself. He has completed a residential landscape project for his family, expanded his repertoire of classical piano, and has taken minor stabs at composing and writing.
Stieber is quick to point out that starting a company is not a panacea for attorneys who seek to improve their quality of life. “The challenges that attorneys face in leaving the green pastures of law firms for the shadowy canyons of business ownership may be vast, but the rewards of managing a company like Big City Chefs have been even greater for me. Integrating a greater variety and mix of personal and professional tasks into my daily activities creates a finely interwoven emotional and physical tapestry that improves my concentration and energy, expands my problem-solving abilities, and maintains my intellectual interest in my work, thereby preventing burnout and reducing stress,” remarks Stieber.
To contact Big City Chefs, call toll free at (866) 321-CHEF.